Thursday, February 3, 2011
Holy or Whole?
Do people who lead their lives according to the Bible, in a holy manner, experience higher levels of psychological health? Or can people have NO faith in God and still be psychologically whole? In their book A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal Modern Psychotherapies (click here for the book), Jones and Butman briefly discussed the topic of wholeness and holiness. More precisely, they said that often secular Psychology purposes to help people become better adjusted and more functional rather than live according to the commands of Christ as one expects a believer to do. More often than not, living according to Christ's commandments will often include suffering and self-sacrifice and those are not very common among secular psychologists. Also, one may wonder if living as Christ commands to live will be enough for us to be psychologically whole. Jones and Butman offer the example of a saint from a local church who follows God and applies himself to holiness but undergoes great emotional turmoil and lacks meaningful relationships. On the other hand one may find individuals who have a great state of emotional, mental, physical and relational health and functionality but declare themselves to be atheists.
So far in our class, one of the main questions we have attempted to answer was related to health and functionality. And in our discussions we realized that it is rather difficult to answer what looks like. As Christians we often rush to claim that the Bible has all the answers to mental health, however one can see that people who don't believe the Bible experience mental health and people who believe the Bible and live accordingly experience psychological dysfunction.
As uncomfortable as it might be, I am willing to accept that there are many people who don't know God who are capable of reaching psychological wholeness and can do so without the knowledge of God or the Bible. And also I am willing to admit that there are many people who know the Bible, know God and still struggle emotionally and relationally, sometimes worse than people who don't know God. Ultimately, I believe that God calls us to both holiness and wholeness, and there might be some overlap between the two but I would not be confident in saying that they are the same.